England get their Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign underway on Friday night, hoping to repeat their success from 2003 in front of their home fans.
The eighth Rugby World Cup kicks off at Twickenham when Stuart Lancaster’s men take on Fiji, and the tournament is expected to be a huge success as 2.3 million of the 2.45 million tickets available have been sold for the 48 games.
The hosts will of course be looking to win their first World Cup since 2003, when Jonny Wilkinson’s dramatic drop-goal saw them defeat Australia to become champions for the first time.
Having struggled since, it is hoped from an English perspective that home advantage can make all the difference in a tournament that runs through to October 31.
Wilkinson has played up the importance of the opener, and insisted that it is crucial England get off to a solid start in order to set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
“It’s a huge game. There’s no other way of looking at it – it’s a massive game,” he told Sky Sports.
“England have got to look at it as kind of like a quarter-final very early on.”
Provided they advance, it won’t be easy later in the competition as defending champions New Zealand will be an intimidating proposition for any of their rivals, although the focus will initially be on making it out of a difficult pool.
Chris Robshaw’s men are joined by Wales and Australia in Pool A, and along with the likes of South Africa are expected to put up a decent challenge with the All Blacks still considered the heavy favourites.
Ireland and France have been tipped to have an outside chance, but it is all about who can stop the march of New Zealand with the likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter featuring.
Whether or not England can deliver in front of their home faithful remains to be seen, but with over 500,000 overseas fans expected to visit and bring £1 billion to the economy, the magnitude of the tournament has been a huge factor in building excitement ahead of what should be a memorable month and a half.